Wednesday, June 26, 2019

New Maxx Force POV Footage + Ride Opens July 4th Weekend


© Six Flags Great America
Another highly anticipated roller coaster for 2019 is about ready to open!  Six Flags Great America has started testing Maxx Force, the park's new S&S Worldwide compressed air launch roller coaster.

The ride is a quick one, featuring a launch that rockets trains from 0 to 78 miles per hour in only 2 seconds - that's going to be a very extreme launch!  It then soars up into a 17 story double-inversion element that's kinda sorta but not really a cobra roll, then back to the ground for the world's fastest inversion, an extended corkscrew that heads to the opposite side of the ride.  Two more quick inversions and then the ride comes into the final brakes.

Ready for a ride?


Now that the ride is testing and in the final stages of preparation, the park has also announced that it will open on July 4th in time for the following holiday weekend.  The press event is scheduled for the 2nd, and pass holder preview days after that before the general public.  Get ready to ride!


Monday, June 24, 2019

The Steel Curtain Takes First Run at Kennywood In New Video


© Kennywood
Exciting times at Kennywood amusement park as their new for 2019 roller coaster, The Steel Curtain, has started test runs!  Shortly after placing the final track pieces the park sent the first train out on the course, and it was a huge success!

Want to see what we mean?  Here's video of the test run direct from Kennywood:

The Steel Curtain looks like an awesome coaster experience, featuring an impressive 9 inversions and quite a bit of speed throughout the entire course.

The twisted first inversion, which takes place 197 feet in the air, leads into an equally twisted first drop and results in a top speed of 76 miles per hour.  The rest of the exaggerated inversions include a banana roll, dive loop and inverted stall over the midway below.  Even the last two inversions, which take place rather close to the ground, are taken at an impressive speed.

Next stop, opening the ride!  I'd expect an official opening date to be revealed soon.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom Late June 2019 Update


© NewsPlusNotes
The summer season has set in at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, and while the amusement and water parks are operating at full speed the property is also preparing for their upcoming festivals and making other improvements.  This past weekend featured probably the best weather we've seen thus far in 2019, and we enjoyed a beautiful evening at the park - let's take a look at what's going on.

© Dorney Park
But first - I was excited to see my first Pass Perks reward hit my inbox a couple weeks ago.  I got a free Fast Lane Plus ticket, which was valid for around two weeks after I got notified.  Now all jokes about Dorney not having long lines for the coasters aside, their water park is packed most sunny days, and this bad boy would let you skip all those legitimately long lines.  A big benefit in my opinion.  Plus, a Fast Lane Plus ticket sells for anywhere from $55 to $70, so this Pass Perk has quite a lot of value to it.  Excited to see what my next one will be.

© NewsPlusNotes
Dorney Park is continuing to get ready for Grand Carnivale, which starts on July 20 - less than a month away!  The center of the party atmosphere will be along the Main Midway, and the park is continuing to prepare the area for the festivities.  The new light/sound poles have been equipped with a bunch of new lights, in addition to speakers.  There are also new speakers in some of the flower beds along the walkway.

© NewsPlusNotes
Even more lighting is showing up in the flower beds as well - these uplights are certain to makes the trees looks beautiful once the evening sets in.  The new stage (seen in the far background of this photo) is all ready to go, with new steps installed for performers.

If you haven't checked out coverage of Grand Carnivale at Kings Island or Kings Dominion, there's plenty out there and the event looks even better than I expected!

© NewsPlusNotes
The park had installed a ton of new electrical boxes to support all the lights and glitter behind Grand Carnivale, and has now installed signs on the boxes to make them a bit more useful and easier on the eye.  Most of them are advertising the park's new free Wifi, and their new mobile app.


Speaking of, the park now has the mobile app version that we've seen in use at many Cedar Fair parks in the past few seasons.  That means it includes wait times for the largest attractions, above is a screen shot from my visit this weekend.  Generally the estimates were pretty accurate with only a small exception here and there - a great way to plan your day when at the park!

© NewsPlusNotes
Now that summer is in full swing, the park has expanded their live entertainment schedule as well.  This year the largest show is at Center Stage, named Hot Rhythm Nights.  Other shows include Chart Toppers on the midway stage, The Tidal Waves and Krank Up The Kingdom inside Wildwater Kingdom, and three different family shows featuring Snoopy in Planet Snoopy.

© NewsPlusNotes
I caught a little bit of Hot Rhythm Nights at Center Stage, and the live band combined with some talented performers made for one of the most entertaining shows in a few seasons.  Worth checking out if you want to get off your feet for a bit while at the park.

© NewsPlusNotes
Lastly for this trip - if you stop by the Whip you may notice something new had been added to the center of each turntables.  That's right, the park has created special birthday cake decorations to help celebrate the Whip's 100th anniversary!

© NewsPlusNotes
Here is a closer view of the birthday cake, like I said there is one at each end of the ride.  The classic attraction is receiving a ton of attention for it's 100th anniversary, much deserved in my book.  It's so awesome to see the park go all out for their classic ride.  And if you're wondering why the birthday cakes look a little generic... that's absolutely on purpose.

© Dorney Park
Reference this photo of the Whip, which had birthday cakes installed on its turntables back in 1984 when Dorney Park celebrated their 100th anniversary.  So not only is it cool that Dorney Park is further celebrating the Whip's 100th anniversary, but they even connected it to the park's 100th anniversary!  Neat.

That's it for this run, stay tuned for more Dorney Park updates throughout the season.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Intamin's Latest Blitz Coaster - Taiga - Opens at Finland's Linnanmaki


© Linnanmaki
The Earth can't have enough Intamin Blitz Coasters in my opinion, and thankfully another one opened a few days ago in Finland at Linnanmaki.  Named Taiga, the coaster features beautiful blue track with black supports and two launches - the fastest of which hits 66 miles per hour.

Even better, the ride takes full advantage of a large sloping hillside over its 3,622 feet of track, with swoops and dives down below the main portion of the ride.

© Linnanmaki
Taiga has beautiful bird themed trains, the front of which is seen here.  The bright colors of reds and oranges contrast nicely with the cool track colors.

The ride starts with a launch out of the station and up into a dive loop, then down the hill side through a series of twists and turns.  The next launch, the fastest of the two, takes place next sending the trains up a twisting top hat to 170 feet in the air.  The rest of the layout has another dive loop, an Immelmann, some high-speed direction changes and an in-line twist finale.

The below video from YouTube channel Ride Review features an excellent on-ride of Taiga, along with plenty of off-ride shots as well.


Friday, June 21, 2019

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure Now Zooming Through the Forests of Islands of Adventure


© Universal Orlando
Easily one of, if not the most anticipated attraction of 2019 is now in daily operation at Islands of Adventure, a part of the Universal Orlando Resort.  Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is a new family roller coaster adventure that takes up the location of the former Dragon Challenge coasters within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade, and takes passengers on a fast motorbike ride through the Forbidden Forest.

The ride had a massive grand opening ceremony, seen above complete with some magic, featuring stars of the Harry Potter movies including Tom Felton, Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davis and more.  The crew were some of the first to venture into the Forbidden Forest for a magical journey along with Hagrid.

© Universal Orlando
Riders enter Hagrid's Magic Creatures Motorbike Adventure through the same castle that Dragon Challenge used, however the similarities between the rides end there.  The queue has been totally renovated and now features different scenes depicting Hagrid's work area and classroom, along with some nifty special effects.

The coaster utilizes trains (click above to see larger) that have both a motorbike and side car seating arrangement, allowing riders to experience the attraction in two styles of seats.  Soon after leaving the station the adventure begins with one of seven different launch sections, the most on one coaster in the world according to the park.

© Universal Orlando
Naturally a ride about Hagrid, the Forbidden Forest and Magical Creatures should include all three items, and this one sure does.  Between blasting on all those launches (which hit a top speed of 50 miles per hour) there are plenty of characters and creatures, including a full sized animatronic of Hagrid, seen above.

Since many are looking to experience the ride for the first time with no spoilers I'd prefer not to document the entire experience, but it looks like a ton of fun filled with lots of twisty track segments (5,053 feet of track in total, quite long), a 17 foot freefall plunge indoors, a 65 foot tall, 70 degree vertical spike and a host of special effects.

From the reviews, its sounds like Islands of Adventure has a home run on their hands!

For those too curious to wait for their own trip into the Forbidden Forest, here is an on-ride point of view video of the attraction from The Potter Collector.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Six Flags Great Adventure Opens Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth + New Solar Power Status


© Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure is having an exciting start to its summer season, announcing that they have completed two major projects that have further transformed the property.

Up first is Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth, the park's towering new pendulum thrill ride.  Seen above, the ride stands "a staggering 17 stories tall" and "reaches speeds of up to 75 miles per hour as it spins and swings to breathtaking heights."

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth has taken up residence within the park's Metropolis themed area, joining the ever popular Justice League Battle for Metropolis and last year's fan favorite, Cyborg Cyber Spin.  The attraction was built on part of the land that formerly occupied the park's classic freefall attraction, and has opened up the area wonderfully allowing visitors to easily see the ride swing up to an amazing 172 feet in the sky.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Up to 40 riders can take a spin on Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth per cycle, experiencing an amazing feeling of weightlessness when the ride is at the top of its swing.  Its top speed of 75 miles per hour is faster than many of the park's popular roller coasters, in fact only Kingda Ka and Nitro beat it.  The ride's floorless seats (note all the legs kicking the sky in the above photo) make for an even more free feeling for riders.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure has also announced that they have finished their project with KDC Solar to make the park run nearly all on solar power.  The park and the company combined efforts to create New Jersey's largest net metered solar project, and that makes the theme park one of the first in the world to be solar powered.

“This is a thrilling day for our company. This project represents a giant step toward becoming a net-zero carbon facility,” said Six Flags Great Adventure Park President John Winkler. “Clean energy is right for the environment and our future, and we look forward to decades of environmental stewardship with our partner, KDC Solar.”

© Six Flags Great Adventure
The project includes a separate solar energy field along with panels covering other areas, such as Hurricane Harbor's parking lot and the employee parking area.  It is capable of making enough power for the park and the net metering system also allows power to be exported to the power grid around the park, supplying nearby homes and businesses.

The project was a long time in the making and it is wonderful to see it reach completion!


Monday, June 17, 2019

The Park at OWA Opens New Mystic Mansion Dark Ride


© Gulf Coast News Today
The Park at OWA has completed another ride expansion, opening their brand new dark ride named Mystic Mansion.  Visitors to the Mystic Mansion ride in special Ghost Tracker Vehicles as they blast their way through the mansion, which is naturally filled to the brim with ghosts.  The family attraction was added to the park to further diversify its offerings, and also to give visitors a break from the sun inside an air-conditioned building.

© The Park at OWA
Before riding through the mansion visitors are greeted by Professor Phearstruck who explains "the history of Mystic Mansion, its curse and who haunts it now."  The main ghost of the attraction is Boocifer, and riders blast at ghosts throughout 15 different scenes as they chase him down.  As they blast the ghouls they accumulate points, allowing the riders to see who in the vehicle comes out with the most points.  That interactive aspect makes the Mystic Mansion a great attraction to ride over and over - to improve your score!

This article from the Gulf Coast Today News has additional details on Mystic Mansion.  The ride was created by Sally Corp., one of the industry's top dark ride creators.

If you'd like to take a trip inside the Mystic Mansion, check out the point of view video below, released by the park.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Kennywood Finishes Track Instillation for The Steel Curtain


© Kennywood
Good things come to those who wait, and while we've all been waiting for The Steel Curtain to open at Kennywood the park hit a big milestone on the ride's construction this past week.  The final piece of track was installed, seen in the photos from the park, completing the 4,000 feet of track.  The final piece was a part of the inversion that takes place right after the lift hill at 197 feet above the ground.  That inversion is now the tallest one in the world.

© Kennywood
Designed by S&S Worldwide, The Steel Curtain is sure to be a true thrill machine once it opens this summer - though no opening date has been announced as of now.  It is the centerpiece of a new themed area at Kennywood, known as Steelers Country and themed after the football franchise.   The area will feature the coaster along with other interactive games, activities and food and beverage areas.

© Kennywood
The Steel Curtain's completed layout is an imposing structure over Kennywood.  The ride stands 220 feet tall, making it the tallest roller coaster in Pennsylvania.  Riders will spend a decent amount of time upside down while on the ride, as The Steel Curtain will feature the most inversions on any coaster in the U.S. - a total of 9.

With track complete and testing right around the corner, we're looking forward to The Steel Curtain taking its first riders!


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Cedar Fair Enters Agreement to Purchase Two Texas Schlitterbahn Water Parks



Some exciting (and surprising!) news broke this morning as Cedar Fair announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to purchase two water parks, one with a full resort attached, from Schlitterbahn.

Cedar Fair will spend about $261 million to become the owner of Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort in New Braunfels, Texas and Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Galveston, Texas.  The deal also comes with the ability for Cedar Fair to purchase 40 acres of land in Kansas City, Kansas that Schlitterbahn was operating as a water park for an additional $6 million.

The company's press release notes that Cedar Fair believes they will be able to incorporate the parks into their system of parks easily over the course of two or so years.  They see the Texas market as a developing one and are already proud of the fact that Schlitterbahn New Braunfels has been voted the country's best water park for 21 years, and Schlitterbahn Galveston has been ranked the best indoor water park for a decade.

The deal is expected to close in the 2nd quarter of 2019, which means by the end of this month, and the company will take on new long term debt to pay for it.

The new map of Cedar Fair properties © Cedar Fair
Cedar Fair states that the two Schlitterbahn parks and the resort had attendance of 1.2 million and revenues of $68 million in 2018.  They hope to get the parks to their overall EBITDA margin of 35% within two years, an important factor for Cedar Fair's overall growth goals over the new few seasons.  At the close of the transaction, Schlitterbahn's 221 rooms will combine with Cedar Fair's existing resort operations to total more than 2,000 rooms, 600 RV sites and two marinas.

© Schlitterbahn New Braunfels
The fact that Cedar Fair is purchasing two of Schlitterbahn's water parks is a surprise, but the fact that they were for sale is not.  Schlitterbahn has had some troubles over the past few years, not the least of which was the accident at the Kansas City park, that I won't detail here.  The family-owned company was heavily leveraged on the Kansas development, and now that it has closed it sounds like there was not much of a choice but to sell the remaining parks to pay off that debt before they became bank owned.

Also of note, the Schlitterbahn park and resort in South Padre will remain family owned but will be rebranded to remove the Schlitterbahn name.  A 4th park, Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi, was sold off during a bankruptcy proceeding in 2018 so it ss already technically no longer a part of the chain.  It sounds like both may no longer use the Schlitterbahn name after the 2019 season concludes.

© Schlitterbahn Galveston
Schlitterbahn has a FAQ up already regarding the sale, available here, which has some interesting tidbits.  They state that "it’s important to know that Cedar Fair values Schlitterbahn’s character and brand promise.  They have committed to not only keeping Schlitterbahn awesome but helping us grow!"  While I have not personally been to a Schlitterbahn water park, it's well known that their attraction roster and operating policies are quite different than Cedar Fair's.   For instance, the FAQ notes that guests will still be able to bring their own food and drink into the parks... at least for the 2019 season.

Schlitterbahn's corporate statement on the transaction, which is really saving them from a heap of trouble, paints the future equally bright for the remaining two branded parks:

Cedar Fair is a dynamic, brand-oriented company.  Under Cedar Fair’s leadership, the Schlitterbahn brand will have an opportunity to grow and expand like the early days when the sky was the limit. While it’s a difficult decision, after several challenging years, we believe that our team, communities, guests, and fans are going to enjoy what lies ahead.  We believe Cedar Fair, with their approach to embracing parks that have a unique footprint, will be a phenomenal owner, and with the talented people that are the Schlitterbahn Family, will take Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts to the next level of world-class family entertainment.

To be clear, I'm not saying that the future of these two water parks is not bright, but I definitely think it will be a lot different than it is now.  And maybe that is a good thing, depends on perspective.  It's interesting that Cedar Fair appears to be set on keeping the Schlitterbahn name in use... and these quotes even hint at possibly growing the name in time.  We will see.

As for the Kansas City property, I fully expect Cedar Fair to purchase it, sit on the land for a number of years, remove the water park attractions, then resell it for other development.  The property is only a 26 mile drive from Worlds of Fun, a well established Cedar Fair park.  I simply cannot see them competing with themselves on that front by continuing to develop the former Schlitterbahn park.

Exciting news though, as it's been a long time since Cedar Fair added parks to the chain!  Will be interesting to watch down the road.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Six Flags New England's Latest Thrill Ride - Cyborg Hyper Drive - Now Open to Visitors


© Six Flags New England
© Six Flags New England
The all-new Cyborg Hyper Drive thrill ride has opened at Six Flags New England, an indoor experience that combines thrilling movements with futuristic lighting and special effects.  Located within the park's DC Super Hero Adventures themed area, Cyborg Hyper Drive is the park's first indoor dark ride since 1999.

The ride has taken residence within an existing building that has hosted other rides throughout the years, but has receive a total makeover for Cyborg.  The attraction is one of Chance Rides' Freestyle flat rides, which has outward facing seats.  Riders rotate in two ways in a giant circle while the ride lifts upward, creating a thrilling experience.

© Six Flags New England
The story line of Cyborg Hyper Drive "invites guests to S.T.A.R. Labs to help Cyborg test a new technological device.  As the story unfolds, the evil, sentient cybernetic system called GRID hacks into the mainframe and takes control of the entire lab.  Riders find themselves caught up in the battle, spinning and whirling mercilessly through the air, while Cyborg wrestles to regain control of the enormous machine."

For more information on Cyborg Hyper Drive check out Six Flags New England's website.


Sunday, June 9, 2019

Batman: The Ride Coaster Opens at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom


© Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Batman has swooped into Six Flags Discovery Kingdom with the opening of the all-new Batman: The Ride roller coaster.  Billed as the "west coast's first 4D Roller Coaster," the new attraction features cars that suspend riders on either side of the bright yellow track as they flip and soar through the sky.

Batman: The Ride is one of S&S Worldwide's 4D Free Spin coasters, which features a vertically stacked layout that begins with a 120 foot vertical lift hill.  At the top the cars are released to move through several hills, dips, and dramatic raven turn plunges.

© Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
On board magnetic technology guarantees that riders will be flipped at least six times during the experience, according to the park's press materials.  The combination of gravity along with the magnets makes each ride a bit different than the one before, though all are thrilling.

The coaster is a part of the park's new DC Universe themed area, featuring other attractions themed to characters like Wonder Woman, Superman, the Joker, Harley Quinn and more.

To read more about Batman: The Ride check out the park's official website.


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Walibi Holland's New RMC Opens July 1 + New POV Released


© Walibi Holland
We're getting close to another opening of one Rocky Mountain Construction's steel makeover coasters, this time Untamed at Walibi Holland.  The ride was previously known as Robin Hood, a traditional wood coaster that was created by Vekoma and opened in 2000.

The original ride stood 105 feet tall and hit 50 miles per hour, and now as Untamed, stands 120 feet tall and has a top speed of 57 miles per hour.  The ride's track length has actually increased to 3,559 feet from 3,395 feet, which is uncommon with a RMC conversion.

© Walibi Holland
While the ride's layout, featuring wild elements that are typical of RMC conversions, is top notch, the ride's trains are also worth mentioning.  The design, seen in concept above, features a front car that's kind of bug themed, and looks pretty slick.

When the ride opens on July 1st riders will be treated to a host of exciting elements, including a 116 foot, 80 degree first drop.  The ride then heads up into a 270 degree double-inverting stall element, essentially stretching out a stall and adding a bit more twist to create two inversions instead of one.  The ride has a couple more inversions as well, including the finale barrel roll that is reminiscent of Outlaw Run.

Ready to see all that Untamed has to offer?  Check out the park's official POV film below.


Friday, June 7, 2019

Scott And Carol Present - The 2019 Fort Wayne Air Show




Scott And Carol Present 
The 2019 Fort Wayne Air Show


An invitation from the base commander at the announcement in 2018. The show date changed many months after this event.


An F-16 Fighting Falcon rolls into position for static display. It is the same type of plane the Thunderbirds fly during their performance.


The A-10 Thunderbolt II struts its stuff during the announcement event. As the best friend the ground troops ever had, they will also be featured in this years air show.


A B-52 for static display. The first one became operational on 6/6/1952. They have actively been employed defending our freedom ever since.


The Thunderbirds practice their diamond formation to pick out landmarks as part of their arrival.


Here is a little bit of their arrival at Fort Wayne International. They are very hard to track in the air.


This C-17 carries the support crew, operating supplies, and spare parts. The Thunderbirds don't travel without lots of highly qualified team air,, who represent the best of their classification.



Major William Graiff, Left Wing or "2," shares a little insight on how it feels to be a Thunderbird and some of the nice things he has been able to do for others while a member of the team.

Everyone is invited to meet the Thunderbirds at Parkview Stadium Friday night. You can find the details here:















Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Supergirl: Sky Flyer Soars into Six Flags St. Louis' 2019 Season


© Six Flags St. Louis
© Six Flags St. Louis
Get ready to take flight!  Six Flags St. Louis has opened their new thrill ride, Supergirl Sky Flyer.  The thrilling attraction is sure to keep guests' heads spinning as they rotate through the sky in open-air capsules with their feet dangling below them.

Supergirl Sky Flyer is one of Zamperla's Endeavour rides, a modern version of the Enterprise, a true flat ride classic.  The ride starts horizontal to the ground, but as it begins to spin it lifts vertically, eventually inverting riders as they spin around.

© Six Flags St. Louis
“The new Supergirl: Sky Flyer leads the way for the 2019 season with breathtaking, high-energy thrills,” said Park President Phil Liggett. “Every year our guests, Members and Season Pass Holders count on us to bring new and innovative experiences and we’re excited to have another winner for them to enjoy.”

Riders hit a maximum height of 67 feet above the ground while they are rotating on the attraction at 25 miles per hour.  It is capable of flying 24 riders per cycle at a maximum force of 2.9gs and the attraction comes with a brilliant light package once the sun goes down.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Six Flags Over Texas Opens El Diablo Looping Thrill Ride


© Six Flags Over Texas
Six Flags Over Texas has opened what they are calling the "world's tallest loop coaster," named El Diablo.  As in past years I will choose to stay out of the debate as to whether these rides are roller coasters are not, but regardless of that distinction El Diablo is sure to scare the wits out of many Six Flags Over Texas visitors.

El Diablo stands 100 feet tall, sharing the record of the tallest Larson "Giga Loop" ride with Six Flags Great America's Mardi Gras Hangover.  El Diablo is advertised as completing one circuit of the loop in exactly 6.66 seconds, adding to its sinister theming.

© Six Flags Over Texas
Featuring a red, orange and black color scheme, El Diablo takes riders around the 100 foot loop several times, going both forward and backward.  The 32 riders are seated facing one another, allowing them to see fear on other rider's faces as they loop six times during the experience.

“The Six Flags brand is synonymous with innovation at the highest level and we are excited to welcome another record-breaking attraction,” said Park President Steve Martindale. “This super-sized loop coaster features six inversions and the most hang-time of any coaster in the park. El Diablo packs a wicked punch and gives our Members and Season Pass Holders yet another new thrill to experience with family and friends.”